Lake Como is truly one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. This spot has been on my bucket list for WAY too long and met and exceeded all expectations.
Nestled in the Italian alps and surprisingly easy to get to from major airports and city, you will find the picturesque and romantic destination of Lake Como! This Lake Como itinerary is based in the gorgeous lake-side town of Bellagio, which is located in the mid-lake region. This is definitely where I would recommend staying, but don’t worry.. I will dive into that more later!
Even though you can realistically travel to Lake Como with whomever, this is definitely tailored more towards a romantic trip with your significant other! Lake Como was a stop on my epic three week Italian Honeymoon, so this is definitely more of a relaxing and romantic itinerary. 🙂
Okay, let’s dive in!!
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Lake Como Itinerary Overview
Travel to Bellagio – details on the best train station to go to, a few “must-pack” items, and where to stay!
Day 1: Ferry Hopping to the inner lake towns – Best towns to see and best things to see within them!
Day 2: Villa Del Balbianello – the best villa in Lake Como!
Day 3: Classic Wooden Boat Tour to See the famous Orrido di Nesso!
Day 4: Travel back home or to your next Europe destination!
+ TONS OF BONUS IDEAS!
Best Time of year to go to Lake Como, Italy
The best time of year to go to Lake Como is definitely the summer time. They have a short and sweet summer season, the rest of the year it is quite cold! You can expect rainy skies and snowfall all the way until end of March. Most of the towns are completely shut down in the off-season and tourist attractions are extremely minimal.
If you want a true “lake” experience, I would plan to come late June – August. May and September can be a little iffy on the warm weather, but the prices will likely be a bit better! This way you can enjoy the summer activities like the ferry’s, boat rentals, meals on the beautiful patios and enjoying the beaches.
How to get to Lake Como
Lake Como is very accessible with multiple train stop options along the lake and an airport that is only 52 miles (84.6 KM) from a major airport.
If you are flying to Italy to visit Lake Como, you should definitely fly into Milan’s international Airport. From here, you can either drive / hire a driver to your hotel OR take the train to the ferry station!
Your commute would like something like this if you are taking the train & ferry route:
Arrive in Milan –> Take train from Milan to Varenna Train Station (roughly 2 hour train ride) –> Hop on the Varenna Fast Ferry to Bellagio (roughly 15 minute ferry)
**If you are staying in the town of Como, you should take the train from Milan to Como. If you are staying in one of the middle-lake towns like Bellagio, Menaggio, or Varenna, you should take the train from Milan to Varenna.**
3 “Must Pack” Items For Lake Como
- Good Walking Shoes are a MUST in Europe! You will be doing a TON of walking in Lake Como, and be ready for a lot of stairs. Not having comfortable shoes will seriously make or break your trip.These are my go-to, always have in my travel bag shoes! They are cute / casual enough to wear with jeans or a sun dress, but are comfy like tennis shoes. Also.. they don’t require any breaking in!2. Europe Themed Passport CoverYou can’t go to Europe without an adorable passport cover.. you just can’t!! This one is ADORABLE and is Europe themed, so fitting 😉
3. Mini Travel Umbrella – Especially for Lake Como
Lake Como rains… A LOT. But hey, that’s why it’s so green and beautiful there!!
I would recommend bringing a small, travel sized umbrella for your trip! I honestly always keep this in my checked luggage, so I am prepared when I am away.
Where to stay in Lake Como
I would 10000% recommend splurging and staying in either Mennagio, Varenna, or Bellagio! This way, you are right in the center of the lake, close to all the nearby towns for adventuring, and getting the best views. These mid-lake towns are by far the most scenic and have the best excursions for travelers.
Personally, I stayed in Bellagio because it is one of the biggest towns that had the most accommodation options. They had tons of restaurants to choose from, shopping, and picturesque streets.
Plus, being born and raised in Las Vegas, The Bellagio Hotel is one of the best hotels in town that was inspired by this town. So of course, I had to come see it for myself 🙂
Hotels in Lake Como book out FAST because the towns are small, the hotels have limited rooms, and Europeans like to book their summer holidays well in advance! Here are my recommendations for hotels in the mid-lake area:
$$$$ Hotel Belvedere in Bellagio (where my husband and I stayed on our honeymoon, it was a beautiful property)! or Grand Hotel Victoria in Bellagio (a new property, very modern, in Mennagio)
$$$ Borgo Le Terrazze in Bellagio (upgraded hotel with spacious rooms, an infinity pool, and situated a little bit away from town)
$$ Hotel Du Lac (right on the lake, family owned, and has sunset wine hour with the owners every day – They have a property in Mennagio as well)
Lake Como Itinerary
Lake Como is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. Home to towering green mountains, glistening blue waters that are dotted with classic wooden boats, beautiful villas every where you turn, hidden waterfalls, and flowers.. everywhere!
I wish I could put into words the beautiful smell of Lake Como.. it smelt like fresh flowers and clean air! 🙂
I feel to have a good experience in Lake Como, it requires a lot of time to wander into the shops, get lost exploring all the lake towns, taking a refreshing dip in the beautiful lake, and just taking all that beauty in! This itinerary is going to leave you some free time while still getting to see all the highlights.
Here we go…
Pssst… like how these photo was edited? It was edited in ONE CLICK using my preset packs (which are on sale right now by the way!!)
Day 1: Visit all of the nearby lakeside towns!
If you are staying in one of the central towns on the lake (Bellagio, Varenna, or Mennagio), then it is super easy to hop between towns on the lake!
The ferry time tables were just a tad confusing, but if you ask your hotel or Airbnb host to help you, they should be able to explain them to you. New time tables come out at the beginning of every season, and can be found here!
I would highly recommend trying to catch the “Fast or Rapid Ferrys” or the “Mid Lake Ferrys” so that way your transit time in between towns is much faster. I accidentally got stuck on the regular ferry, and it took me almost an hour to cross the lake haha! 🙂
If you are staying in Bellagio, I would recommend hopping over to see the towns of Varenna, Mennagio, and possibly Bellano! These colorful towns will have less tourists than Bellagio and still lots to see and do. Here is just a quick overview on some fun things to do in these towns…
Varenna Top 3 Things to Do:
- Walk of Lovers – a paved walking trail along the riverfront
- Villa Carlotta – all white, lake front villa.
- Castello Di Vezio – a fortress with beautiful views of the lake!
Mennagio Top 3 Things to Do:
- Stroll along the waterfront and get gelato in the Piazza Garibaldi
- Golf Course – One of the only golf courses on Lake Como! My husband really wanted to do this, but the weather was not great on the day we were supposed to go.
- Do a hike or walking trail through the area – here is a great list of hiking trails!
If you are a bit sick of Italian food (which I know people are going to judge me for even saying this), Menaggio has a sushi restaurant in town, Ni Sushi! My husband and I arrived in Lake Como on the third week of our honeymoon, so we were really wanting something other than pasta, ha! 🙂
Bellano Top 2 Things to Do:
- Large Farmers Market on Thursdays from 8AM – 1PM
- Orrido De Bellano – A 15 million year old gorge with a waterfall where you can explore by suspension footbridges along the canyon wall!
Day 2: Visit the most famous villa on the lake: Villa Del Balbianello!
Villa Del Balbianello is a famous villa on the lake that was featured in many movies, including a James Bond & Star Wars movie! This cliff-side villa has incredible gardens that can be seen by boat! They close down the villa twice per week just to take care of the extensive gardens on the property and to host events.
Villa Del Balbianello is one of the most expensive wedding venues in Italy.. for good reason of course! Just look at this place…
This is a massive villa that will take up most of your day. To get there, you will need to take the ferry to the town of Lenno. Once you arrive in Lenno, you can either take a water taxi straight to the villa or you can walk a scenic walking trail that takes roughly 25 minutes (1km / little over half a mile).
The villa opens at 10am, so since it is a popular attraction in Lake Como, I would aim to get there right when they open. That would mean arriving in Lenno around 9:30AM – 9:45AM! 🙂
IMPORTANT: The villa is closed every Monday & Wednesday!!
Click here for ticket information, hours of operations, and important info!
After you are done with the Villa, I would plan to take the ferry back to Bellagio. There is not much to do in Lenno other than this impressive Villa.
In the afternoon, I would plan to head back to Bellagio to have dinner at the best spot in town: La Terrazza!
This restaurant is at the 5* Hotel Belvedere and has amazing views of the lake. Be sure to make your reservation in advance (you can do so right online) and try to make it for sunset time! 🙂
I am not joking when I say my husband and I ate here 3+ times during our short trip because the food was really THAT good!!
Day 3: See Lake Como by Boat
On your last day in Lake Como, you will be seeing the lake from the best view.. by boat! This is where you really get to see all the impressive villas, hidden waterfalls, and colorful lake-side villages.
I have always had the ridiculous dream of being chartered around Lake Como in a vintage wooden boat… I know.. I am Basic B**ch!! 😉 I just felt like that was so unique to Lake Como and would make the boat trip so memorable!
Well, if you are a Basic B**ch like me, here are a few companies in the Bellagio area that have classic wooden boat tours:
- Bellagio Water Limousines
- Lake Como Boat
- Italian Allure Travel
- AC Boats
- Taxi Boat Varenna
- Menaggio Water Limousine
On our boat tour, we specifically asked to see the Orrido di Nesso, which is a popular waterfall on the lake. This small town of Nesso has cliff jumpers that jump from the picturesque bridge and tons of flowers everywhere. This was such a highlight of our boat tour and should definitely be on your list to see.
If you want to go swimming in the lake, visit some of the lakeside towns, and know how to drive a boat.. then chartering your own boat might be for you! I was pretty torn whether to do this or get a boat captain. I love having the freedom to wander and explore while I am traveling, but I also don’t know how to drive a boat soooo 🙂
For your last night in Lake Como, I would stop for a flight of wine in a whole-in-the-wall wine shop (Enoteca Cavaturacciolo is my favorite one!), grab gelato and stroll along the lake, shop for souvenirs from local shops, and catch the sunset at the main street in Bellagio (Salita Serbelloni).
Salita Serbelloni is the main street in Bellagio, which I am sure you have seen pictures of it on Instagram a ton of times! They have cute wine bars, souvenir shops, a gelato shop, and a small stairway at the top to enjoy the sunset.
Recommended Read: Day trip to Capri from the Amalfi Coast!
My favorite part about staying in the town of Bellagio is that once the crowds from the ferry’s are done for the day, the town of Bellagio becomes very quiet and peaceful! It was fun to see the bustling / tourist-filled side but also the side the locals get to enjoy. 🙂
Day 4: Milan & Fly Home
The commute from Lake Como to Milan isn’t too bad, and if you this is the tail end of your Italy trip, I would definitely recommend flying out of Milan! Your travel day would look something like this:
Take the fast ferry to Varenna –> Take train from Varenna to Milan Train Station (roughly 2 hour train ride) –> Quick ride to airport
If you are flying out of Milan early, you might not be able to catch the ferry or train in time – this is what happened to us!
We ended up paying for a private car transfer to take us directly to the Milan airport, which overall was about an hour and a half commute. If you want to go this route, you can contact your Airbnb host or hotel to get a driver for you 🙂
Want to extend your time in Lake Como or swap out one of my recommended excursions for one of these (don’t worry, I promise I won’t get offended!)?
Here are some fun tours & bonus ideas for things to do in Lake Como. Most of these are based in Bellagio because that is where this itinerary is based, but there are also a lot of cool tours that are based out of Como town.
- Pasta Making Class or Bellagio Cook with a view – Both of these tours are based out of Bellagio! These are both ran by locals and the reviews are incredible!
- Food Tour based in Como’s old town. Check out the local’s favorite foods and get some authentic Italian cuisine. My husband who is a big foodie loves to incorporate food tours into our travels.
- Spa Day is always such a treat on a vacation and really gets you into relaxation mode! I struggle with relaxing on vacation because I just want to see everything! Relaxing with a massage helps me slow down a bit. 🙂
- There is a cable car that takes you up to a mountain and gives you aerial views of Lake Como! This was something I really wanted to do, but we just didn’t have the time! Click here to check it out.
- A Canyoneering tour is perfect for all the adventure-lovers out there.
- Golf at Golf Club Mennagio
- Want something stress-free and peaceful? Sign up for a Painting Experience right on the lake! This is the best souvenir to take home 🙂
Pssst… like how these photo was edited? It was edited in ONE CLICK using my preset packs (which are on sale right now by the way!!)
Okay, that’s a wrap!
I truly hope you love Lake Como as much as I did and this helps you plan the trip of your dreams! Lake Como is such a bucket list destination and it felt surreal to check it off my bucket list.
This Lake Como itinerary is for 3 full days + travel days, but you can easily cut some stuff out or extend to customize it! Don’t forget to check out the “Bonus Section” for even more ideas.
Traveling to Europe? Here are some guides I think you would love!
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- 10 Day European Road Trip – Germany, Italy & Switzerland!
- 10 Day France Itinerary – See ALL of France in just 10 days!
- Champagne tasting in Champagne, France – a perfect day trip from Paris!
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